The world is becoming more urban every day, and the process has been ongoing since the industrial revolution in the 18th century. The United Nations now estimates that 3.9 billion people live in urban centres. The rapid influx of residents is however not universal and the developed countries are already urban, but the big rise in urban population in the next 30 years is expected to be in Asia and Africa.

Urbanisation leads to many challenges for global health and the epidemiology of infectious diseases. New megacities can be incubators for new epidemics, and zoonotic diseases can spread in a more rapid manner and become worldwide threats. Adequate city planning and surveillance can be powerful tools to improve the global health and decrease the burden of communicable diseases.